Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The End, I think.

Hey guys.  So, here's the thing... I think I'm done.  With blogging.  I can't say precisely why.  It just feels like it's time to move on from it.  I may still pop in to check your blogs now and then.  It's not out of the question that I might update here again.  I just feel that the era of me being committed to a deep and meaningful relationship with blogging has organically drawn to a close.

It's not you, it's me.  I'm not leaving you for another hobby that I've been pursuing behind your back.  It's just... well... people change.

Thanks for showing up and sharing your lives and your lovely selves with me.  I wish you all the best, and your families and your furry friends.  Keep being awesome.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Meanwhile, in Canada...

Since I turned 40 (several years ago) I have been trying to learn more about current events, globally, and here in my home country of Canada.  I want to be a responsible, informed citizen.  It's easier said than done.

American news is everywhere.  It's on the internet, on TV, and in the podcasts that I enjoy most.  I have subscriptions to the New York Times website, and also Foreign Policy magazine (online and in print), so I have access to more US and global news than I can keep up with.  

Canadian news is, ironically, more of a challenge.  I listen to CBC radio news, and often read their website, but they are left-leaning and government funded, so I feel the need to balance their take with alternate views from the centre and/or right.

For a while I subscribed to the Globe and Mail online newspaper, but I didn't learn much from them.  Their focus is firmly on financial and business news, which is not my priority.  I wasn't impressed by their content, plus their servers are hella slow.

The only other option, to my mind, was the National Post newspaper, to which I now have an online subscription.  I signed up last month and I have been struggling since then with technical difficulties.

I opened an account online, but the process didn't complete, so I had to call the customer service desk to get that sorted out.  Then there was another call to get my account unlinked from a social media account that I don't use anymore, which was screwing with my ability to log in.  A third call was needed when my credit card bill arrived, showing two charges from NP in the same month, which turned out to be because I had been signed up for both digital access (i.e. the website), which I did want, and their ePaper (allows you to view the paper page-by-page on a tablet  as though you were looking at the print version), which I didn't want or need.  Every time I think I've gotten all the problems sorted out, I discover another one.

The website doesn't work on Safari, the default browser on my Mac at home.  I have to open Chrome to read the newspaper.  Their mobile app is rated so poorly in the Google Play store that I haven't even bothered to install it on my phone.  (The New York Times app, incidentally, is great.)

I understand that newspapers are struggling right now to make the transition from paper to digital formats.  I get that Canada's news media in particular are fighting to remain relevant in an increasingly non-local world.  I want to support Canadian news media so that they are able to survive; so that we do have some alternatives to the government-funded CBC.  But heck.  The National Post has been a massive pain.  It's really testing my commitment.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Things I Can't Even Part 2

Did I ever tell you guys about the time my step-dad plotted a murder?

I didn't?  Oh, that's probably because I was terrified that he would make good on his threats and if I revealed that I had known about it ahead of time I could be jailed for years as an accessory to the crime.

Some of you will recall that my step-dad was embroiled in a lawsuit against his business partners a few years ago.  That lawsuit was finally resolved, but only after many years of legal wrangling that funneled all of his wealth into the pockets of lawyers.

My step-dad is relentless.  The guy he was up against also had no intention of backing down.  In the end, as all such legal battles do, it came down to who ran out of money (lawyer fuel) first.  Since the other guy is (supposedly) a billionaire, my step-dad was outclassed.  Anyone could have predicted that from the beginning, but my step-dad just wouldn't give up and walk away.  Now he has lost his shares in the business and he has spent all his savings.  Super great.

At one point, when he was feeling particularly frustrated, he told me that he was planning to hire a hit on one of the players in the drama.  He seemed to be serious.  He associated with a lawyer who acted as the legal representative for a powerful biker gang.  This guy occasionally showed up at my workplace to drop off or pick up papers.  He dressed like a stereotypical biker, and was usually accompanied by a giant, fierce Rottweiler whose booming bark was enough to put anyone into a state of visceral fear.

I found it easy to believe that this guy would know a guy who knew a guy who could set up a hit, if the money was right.

I begged my step-dad to be reasonable.  His adversary in the lawsuit was a powerful man, and probably had his own thugs to call on.  I could picture all sorts of horrible consequences, one of which was myself getting killed in revenge.  The best-case scenario would be my step-dad's plan being discovered before anyone died, but he would go to jail for a long time.

My only hope was that his ADD (as diagnosed by me, Dr. Spark) would ensure that he got distracted from the plan before it was carried out.  Sometimes it's a good thing when someone "fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties at work".  I've watched enough true crime TV to know that planning a good murder requires sustained attention to detail, and no hired hit man worth the title would agree to proceed carelessly.

Fortunately for everyone, that's what happened.  My step-dad talked about it a lot, but he never got around to making a plan.  He even semi-forgave the guy he was hoping to rub out.  At least they're on speaking terms again.  At one point, when everything had settled down, I asked him, "Aren't you glad you didn't murder X?"  He wouldn't commit to being glad about it.  But I sure as heck am.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Things I Can't Even Part 1

Did I ever tell you guys that I got sued?

You may recall that last year at work I hired an assistant for a picky, cranky old dude.  Nothing and no one was ever good enough for him.  I found him a gem of an employee: smart, sweet, energetic, and capable.  Everyone thought that she was fantastic... except for the cranky old dude, because he was so old and cranky.

This fellow, not a direct supervisor but someone above me in the pecking order, gave us all endless trouble.  He was showing signs of reduced competence, due to his age (he was 80, and suffering from a chronic disease), but he had an excuse for everything.  All of his lapses were someone else's fault.  After an extremely difficult power struggle between him and the business owners, he finally agreed to leave.  (I would have said that he retired - except we found out that he went straight back to work somewhere else.)

Things might not have worked out for him at his new job, because a few months later he found himself in need of cash.  So what did he do?  He sued the business I work for, for wrongful dismissal.  Not only that, he named several individuals in the lawsuit, including me.  Because supposedly I was one of the decision-makers.  Believe me - if I had truly been a decision-maker, he would have been gone months before he finally left!

Without getting into details, it's a frivolous lawsuit.  He hasn't got a case.  I was confident of that from the beginning.  But when I got served the papers with my name on them, it was like getting punched in the stomach.  I've never been sued before.  I turned myself inside out and upside down to try to keep that man happy for all the 10+ years that I worked with him, and this is my reward?  He can earn over a million dollars a year as an accomplished professional, and he wants to put his big hand into my little pocket to steal my modest retirement savings?

The papers were served to me between Christmas and New Year's Eve last winter.  Happy Holidays to me.  I worried about it, because anyone would.  You never know how a court case is going to turn out.  I finally found out last month that my name had been removed from the lawsuit, subsequent to some negotiations... in March!  My boss hadn't bothered to let me know that I was off the hook.  I worried for an extra four months for no reason, until I finally bugged him for an update.  Fantastic.  This is why I have to take Paxil to survive my life.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Jalopy Jam-Up

Last weekend, Ken drove us more than two hours north of Toronto so that we could go to Jalopy Jam-Up, a classic car event out in the middle of nowhere.  The venue is a fake frontier ghost town, but it has been so poorly maintained that you could almost mistake it for a real one, it's so dusty and tumble-down.

We heard about the event through friends of a friend, who know the organizers.

This car wins the prize for flashiest paint job.  Click on the photo to see the large version, so you can get a good look at the nude lady on the hub cap!

Every knob inside was replaced with a decorative die.

Old vehicles are much more bulbous than the ones made today.

I heard that Wells Fargo had been hit hard in the recession, but I didn't know it had come to this...

I thought we'd come a long way to be there, having driven from Toronto.  Apparently not.  Here's an Ohio license plate.  People brought their "jalopies" from all over.

Exhaust pipes, or hungry baby birds?

There were a lot of flame paint jobs.

I like this blue car for its understated cool.

That's a Mr. Horsepower sticker near the front wheel of the yellow car, below.  Ken got one for my mom's car, and she loved it so much that when she got a new car, she asked him to get her another Mr. Horsepower sticker.  He drove over to the house one day when she wasn't home, walked up to her car which was parked in the driveway, stuck the sticker on, and left.  He said the neighbours must have been wondering who the heck he was and what he was doing to the nice older lady's car.

So pink!  The roof is done with a sparkly flake paint, and the rest of the body is matte.  I like the hubcaps too.

No one does good tail fins anymore.

Some cars that weren't up to the drive got a lift to the venue.

Classic black.

We stayed for four hours, and it was a pretty good time.  We brought folding chairs and sat outside under trees, which we never get around to doing in the city.  There wasn't a heck of a lot to do there other than talk cars and listen to music, so I'm not sure how everyone was passing the time since a lot of people were camping there or staying at nearby hotels for the whole weekend.  From the looks of it, the main source of entertainment was drinking beer.

We heard that there was a drunken scuffle the night before we arrived, when a guy who had been into the silly soda found his wife, who was likewise sozzled, in a tent fooling around with another man.  The loud arguing and fighting that followed kept the whole camp up for most of the night.  Ken and I aren't fans of camping even under the best circumstances, so I'm glad that we weren't there. I'm also really not a big fan of porta-potties and no running water.  Thank God for hand sanitizer.

So, which if the cars is your favourite?  (The blue car is my favourite, followed by the yellow convertible.)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Canadian National Exhibition Time

Ken and I took Friday off work to go to the CNE annual fair.  We couldn't have picked a more beautiful day.

We could, however, have picked a cooler day.  It was another scorcher, so we spent at least as much time inside as out.  Fortunately, the CNE has plenty of indoor exhibits.

In the horticulture display, I found a moss moose.  Someone clearly enjoys wordplay as much as I do.

In the shopping area, I was a bit taken aback by this piggy bank, which requires you to insert your coins into its butt.  It's huge, too!  That's a folding chair behind it.

I did approve of this pillow, featuring three enigmatic cat people protecting a slice of watermelon.  At least, that's my best guess as to what's happening here.

We ventured outside to watch an XTREME POGO!!!!!  demonstration.  The stunt team jumped seven feet off the ground and turned somersaults on their pogo sticks.  We bailed after about 5 minutes because it was too damn hot.  I felt sorry for the pogoers in their all-black uniforms.  

Corndogs, available in small, large, and OMG, are you kidding me, does anyone actually want a two-foot long corndog?

One-man-band guy was singing, playing the drum set on his back, plus the guitar on his front, and had a harmonica at the ready.  Although he wasn't quite a solo act this year; the fellow behind him was playing what was more or less a xylophone made of PVC pipes. They were playing The Weight (the "Take a load off, Annie" song), and doing a great job of it.

Kids' area, with scaled down rides.  You can see the CN Tower in the background.

This sculpture/decommissioned fountain was a Pokestop.  I bet the kids appreciated that.

Fountain still in commission.

Cow that looks like a delicious, lightly toasted marshmallow.

One-week old calf.  Awwww! :-)

Turkey, obviously.  Get a load of that neck!  Sheesh!  Somebody get him a bandana please.

It was a great day.  We walked until our feet were sore, picked up a couple of souvenirs, ate treats, and generally tired ourselves out completely in the best way possible.  Hurray for the CNE!

Sunday, August 14, 2016


So.  It's hot.  It's hot today, it was hot yesterday, and the many days before that, and it's going to be hot  again tomorrow.  Okay, this is summer; I suppose it's to be expected.  But I am all out of patience for walking home from work in 35 degree weather (that's 95 of your American Farenheits) at maximum humidity.

I cope by bringing an entire change of clothes for the office environment, which is effective but also a hassle.  I've also started bringing an ice pack to hold against the back of my neck, or the insides of my elbows, while waiting for the bus.

At least my hair is finally long enough to pull back into a ponytail.  #SmallMercies

Maybe it's the heat sapping our tempers, but Ken and I have been quibbling about politics.  It's a bit stupid, considering that we're Canadian, to argue about the American election, but we do.  Ken prefers Trump to Clinton, because a) Trump is more entertaining and b) actually I think that might be the only reason.  I prefer Clinton, even though she demonstrably lied during the email fiasco, because at least she has experience and takes her campaign seriously.

I'm not much of a hater, but I hate The Donald.  Loathe him.  It was all fine and dandy when he was shooting off his mouth on The Apprentice, which I watched and enjoyed.  It's another thing entirely for him to be playing up xenophobia and generally being an ass to people from a position of potential real power.  He doesn't seem to care at all about anything except his own ego.  I believe that he's a sociopath.  Not a quality one should be looking for in a world leader.

I've almost completely ignored the Olympics, except for a few minutes of gymnastics.  The athletes were amazing and very chalky.

That's about it for this week.  How broiling hot is it where you are right now, and how are you coping?